Analysts said nuclear powers seem committed to retaining significant atomic arsenals, despite pursuing modest reductions since last year, Reuters reports.
Nine nations as of early this year possessed roughly 16,300 nuclear weapons, a drop of roughly 5.6 percent since 2013, according to estimates compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The decrease continued an incremental downward trend in global warhead counts over the last half-decade, the assessment indicates, noting that about 4,000 of the weapons were in active service this year.
Still, the rate of stockpile cuts appears to have slowed down, and governments around the world are pressing ahead with updates to their arsenals, according to the findings.
"Once again this year, the nuclear weapon-possessing states took little action to indicate a genuine willingness to work toward complete dismantlement of their nuclear arsenals," issue experts Shannon Kile and Phillip Patton Schell said.
Washington and Moscow "have extensive modernization programs under way for their remaining nuclear delivery systems, warheads and production facilities," the report states.
Other nuclear-armed nations possess less sizable arsenals, but are "either developing or deploying new weapons or have announced their intention to do so," according to the paper.
Amid concerns about possible technological advancements in North Korea's nuclear-arms program, the authors said there is "no public evidence to date that it has developed a sufficiently compact nuclear warhead or other key technologies for a nuclear-armed ballistic missile."
The United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom possess nuclear stockpiles acknowledged under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The SIPRI report also designates India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel as nuclear-armed countries, though Israel has never formally acknowledged holding atomic arms.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.